Telecommunications dispute resolution scheme to be reviewed

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Customer complaints about telecommunications services are on the rise, which is just one of the issues to be addressed by a review of the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme.

“Getting prompt and effective resolution of any problems consumers can’t resolve directly with their telecommunications providers is a critical part of ensuring consumer satisfaction with their service,” telecommunications commissioner Tristan Gilbertson said, adding the review was now required every three years.

The telecommunications industry said it was looking forward to contributing to the review over the coming months, to ensure the service continued to provide a free independent service for residential and small business telco users.

“We believe there is always room for improvement, and we hope this review process results in a strengthened TDR scheme that is able to help even more New Zealanders if they encounter issues with their telecommunications services,” Telecommunications Forum chief exeuctive Geoff Thorn said.

The commission said complaints about broadband, mobile or home phone providers had been steadily increasing over the past few years, with a 12.5 percent increase to 2,802 in 2020 over the year earlier.

“It is pleasing that the vast majority of these cases were resolved directly by the provider after initial assistance and referral by TDR, with less than 2 percent of all cases requiring facilitation, mediation or adjudication by TDR,” Thorn said, noting there were nearly 8 million telecommunications connections, with an increasing complexity of technology.

Thorn said global industry surveys had consistently shown mobile consumers were well served by world-class telecommunications, with $15 billion of investment in networks and services over the past decade.

He said that was backed up by data indicating New Zealand was third in the world rankings for mobile services and 12th for overall digital connectivity.

The commission was calling for submissions, with a draft report to be issued in September and a final report in November.

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